Dark Dorset Online Scrapbook is an archive of current and past events relating to local history, folklore and mysteries that can be discovered in the English county of Dorset.

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Tuesday, 4 December 2001

Dorset's Jurassic coast is wonder of natural world

England should shortly be able to boast its own wonder of the natural world. The fossil-rich stretch of coastline from Studland Bay in Dorset to Exmouth in east Devon is expected to be named a World Heritage Site by Unesco next week. The so-called Jurassic Coast will be the first natural feature in England to be given the accolade, putting it on a par with the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef and the Galapagos Islands.

The 95 miles of coastline is unique: its fossils contain unbroken evidence of more than 180 million years of evolution. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, study of the coastal rocks helped to lay the foundations of the modern science of geology.

The 17 members of the World Heritage Committee, who meet in Helsinki next week, are being recommended to add two other sites to the existing 139-strong list: the spectacular alpine landscape around the Jungfrau in Switzerland, and three unique soda lakes in the Rift Valley in Kenya.

England has dozens of World Heritage cultural sites, including Stonehenge and the Georgian city of Bath. But there are only two natural sites in the UK: the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and the island of St Kilda, off the Scottish coast.

Professor Denys Brunsden, a retired geomorphologist and chairman of the Dorset Coast Forum, which helped to submit the proposal, said that the area was already one of the most popular sites for fossil-hunters in Europe. “The rocks of Dorset and east Devon cover 180 million years of the earth’s history,” he said. “It really is a walk through time and shows the evolution of species from fish to dinosaurs to mammals.

“The coast has become the most popular area for school and university field trips, possibly in Europe. The rock formations are unique and straddle the entire Mesozoic time, which is divided in to the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.”

The oldest rocks, at Exmouth, date back about 235 million years; the youngest, at 65 million years, are Old Harry rocks near Swanage.

The fossils of the Dorset coast were brought to the attention of the world in the early 19th century when the most famous fossil hunter of all, Mary Anning, discovered the remains of the giant marine reptiles named ichthyosaurs on the beach at Lyme Regis. The discoveries have continued ever since. Professor Brunsden said: “Just recently some dinosaur footprints have been discovered on the Isle of Portland where they have never been seen before.”

Beside the fossils, the action of the sea has produced spectacular natural features such as Lulworth Cove and the arch at Durdle Door in Dorset. The World Heritage committee will consider a report on the coastline by Dr Paul Dingwall, an Australian geologist who visited Devon and Dorset earlier this year. “On paper it appears to be a very special place in geological terms — a treasure trove,” he said.

“It is a reference point for global geology.” He had one reservation: “Does it tell a geological story that is told nowhere else?”

Source: The Times TUESDAY DECEMBER 04 2001

Saturday, 27 October 2001

Spooky goings on at Portland Castle

Haunting tales from Portland Castle, home to some rather disturbing and strange supernatural goings-on...

HALLOWE'EN is a great time to take a seat by the fireside and feel your flesh creep at hearing tales of the supernatural. Step inside Portland Castle - a 460-year-old artillery fort built by Henry VIII to counter a feared invasion by France and Spain. Owing to hundreds of years of murder and bloodshed within its walls, today it has more documented hauntings than you can shake a musket at

Source: Dorset Echo 27th Oct 2001

Wednesday, 26 September 2001

Chance of a ghost

All is not what it seems at the former home of a famous Poole seafarer and it's giving cleaning staff the spooks.

As the lights go out at Jolliffe House and the hustle and bustle turns to silence an eerie chill lurks in the corridors.

Source: Dorset Echo 26th Sep 2001

Monday, 24 September 2001

Hillside figure gets a giant makeover

The Cerne Abbas Giant has had a stylish new make-over, thanks to the hard work of 40 local volunteers.

Members of the Dorset Countryside Volunteers and the National Trust spent two days sprucing-up one of the county's most famous landmarks.

Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Monday 24th Sep 2001

Saturday, 25 August 2001

Volunteers needed for a giant of a job

Countryside workers giving the Cerne Abbas Giant a body lift have appealed for volunteers - to clean up his `naughty bits'.

The National Trust has asked the Dorset Countryside Volunteers (DCV) to replace the chalk in the famous hill figure because it is dirty.

Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Saturday 25th Aug 2001

Saturday, 21 July 2001

The Nessie Punter

How a burglar alarm fitter from Dorset became the world's most persistent monster hunter

Every morning, Steve Feltham lifts his head from his pillow and looks down a 21-mile expanse of Loch Ness towards Fort Augustus.

Source: Daily Record 21 July 2001

Tuesday, 10 July 2001

Ten years and no sign of Nessie

A decade has passed since Steve Feltham gave up his home comforts and left Dorset in search of the Loch Ness Monster.

But, although his patience has not yet paid off, the determined adventurer has vowed to stay put until he proves that Nessie is alive and well.

Steve, 38, sold his home at Corfe Mullen, left his girlfriend and quit his job installing burglar alarms to devote his life to hunting Nessie.

Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Tuesday 10th Jul 2001

Saturday, 23 June 2001

Claw and disorder

Nick Churchill turns back the clock to relive the fateful day a sea monster brought fear to a Dorset village.

Surrounded by countryside in the heart of Dorset's sheepland, there is no apparent reason why the quiet and quaint village of Shapwick, near Badbury Rings, should have a legend about a crab or a pub called the Anchor Inn.

Source: Dorset Echo Saturday 23rd Jun 2001

Thursday, 7 June 2001

Festival traditionally one of the very best

This weekend's Wimborne folk festival will host the biggest gathering of traditional dance teams and bands ever seen in the area.

In all, the annual festival will play host 68 teams of dancers covering most of the English traditions along with visiting display teams from the USA and France and also Irish and Scottish dancers.

The event features two processions, the opener at 8pm tomorrow and the main festival procession on Saturday at 2.30pm.

Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Thursday 7th Jun 2001
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